Update: Stanford Murders: John Getreu, Serial Killer May 29, 2019 12:31:51 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on May 29, 2019 12:31:51 GMT -5
Stanford Murders: John Getreu, Serial Killer
Two murders from the early 1970s with a connection to Stanford University have been solved. Two 21-year-old women, Leslie Marie Perlov (above right), a Stanford graduate and law student, and Janet Ann Taylor (left), the daughter of the Stanford football coach, were killed on February 13, 1973, and March 24, 1974, respectively.
Later in 1974, on October 12, Arlis Perry, the 19-year-old wife of a premed student, was slain inside Stanford Memorial Church in what appeared to be a ritualistic killing with Satanic overtones and connections to the notorious Son of Sam. DNA testing of semen found at the scene led to the June 2018 attempted arrest of Stephen Crawford, the security guard who found Perry’s body. However, not everyone – and this includes investigators who worked the case – is convinced Crawford acted alone.
Forty-four years after Perlov was killed, a break finally came when Santa Clara County investigators submitted DNA from the crime scene to the genealogy website GEDMatch that led to now 74-year-old John Arthur Getreu of Hayward. The suspect was arrested and charged with the young woman’s murder on November 20, 2018. From the beginning, investigators believed the two murders were connected and following Getreu’s arrest, San Mateo County investigators wasted no time matching DNA from Taylor’s clothing to Getreu and on May 16, he was charged with the murder of Janet Taylor.
Leslie Perlov was attending Stanford Law School when her young life was cut short. On the afternoon of her disappearance, she left the North County Law Library in Palo Alto and drove into the hills, parking her 1972 orange Chevy Nova at the gate of an old quarry between Page Mill and Old Page Mill roads. From there, it is believed she walked to the northwest, where she was found buried beneath an oak tree three days later.
On the morning Janet Taylor disappeared, she left a friend’s house in Palo Alto to hitchhike to her home in nearby La Honda. The following day, a delivery driver found her body in a ditch on Sand Hill Road west of Interstate 280. She was face-down, her skirt hiked above her waist and her underwear and pantyhose stuffed into her mouth. The medical examiner determined she died of strangulation by ligature.
With Getreu now tied to two murders, police all over California are submitting evidence from old cases, believing he may be a serial killer. “It’s hard to rein in that impulse if you’re enjoying what you’re doing,” said Rick Jackson, a retired Los Angeles homicide detective whose diligence led to charges in the killing of Janet Taylor. “And he enjoyed what he was doing.”
Who is John Getreu? His known criminal history dates to 1963 when Getreu, the son of an army sergeant major, was living with his family at the army installation (now closed) near Kreuznach, Germany. On June 8, the body of Margaret L. Williams, 16, was found on a baseball diamond behind a club where she had attended a dance. Her father was an army chaplain. Investigators confirmed she had been raped and strangled. When questioned, Getreu, 18 at the time, claimed he met Williams and they had gone for walk. He finally admitted killing the girl, but insisted, “I just wanted to knock her out.” He was convicted of the murder, however, because he was considered a juvenile under German law, he was sentenced to only 10 years, but served no more than two or three years before being released and returned to the Untied States.
In 1975, Getreu was convicted of the statutory rape of an underage girl in Santa Clara County and was sentenced to six months in prison, however, five months were suspended.
When asked why Getreu killed, Jackson admitted he didn’t know, but Sharon Lucchese of Semi Valley, Claif., may have the answer. When she first saw Getreu’s mug shot, she immediately recognized him, saying, “I was looking for 50 years for that face.” Though changed considerably, she insisted his eyes looked just as they did when she was 19 and he assaulted her. Police hope the information provided by Lucchese will lead to an understanding of Getreu’s impulses and motives, which could possibly lead to the solving of additional cases.
Lucchese, now 70, was living in Hollywood when she encountered Getreu. One night in 1969 or 70, following a school ministry for young Christians, she was asked out by a man. She was apprehensive because he was older, but he had asked her in front of two elderly women, one of whom quipped, “Oh, just go have coffee. You need to represent Christ and meet people.”
When she got into his car, instead of driving to a coffee shop, he headed into the Hollywood Hills and parked in a secluded spot. He then turned toward her, put his hands around her neck and began choking her. “I spent the entire night with his hands around my throat,” Lucchese recalled. He repeatedly choked her, relaxing his hands just in time. “I thought he was going to snap the tiny bones in my neck,” she said. Between the choking episodes, he would chat, seemingly to himself, saying God had given him a directive. “He said he had to kill me. He said God told him he had to kill beautiful women who were a temptation to his Christian brothers.”
As he stared into her eyes, hands on her neck, she didn’t panic, but called on the Almighty, saying, “God just let me have peace that I would survive the evening. I thought I was supposed to just stare into his eyes and keep calm.” The choking and releasing continued for hours and didn’t let up until dawn. All the while, she started into his eyes. “For some reason, when the sun came up, he decided to let me live,” she continued.
Lucchese believes she survived for one of two reasons: Either he was hoping for fear-triggered excitement, something her calmness denied him, or after spending hours with her, perhaps he reevaluated the situation. “He decided I wasn’t the kind of girl he wanted to kill,” she explained.
Whatever the case, she got out of the car and he drove away. On the long trek home, she planned to tell the first police officer she saw. Unfortunately, she did not see a single patrol car. Though cool and collected while walking, once Lucchese got home, she became hysterical. “I just fell apart,” she remembered. “... I didn’t know there was such an evil in the world.” Because she was afraid, she did not report the assault. “I was just a dumb kid,” she admitted. Afterwards, however, she felt guilty, thinking if he murdered someone else, she could have prevented it.
It wasn’t until 1989 that she told the man she was going to marry what had happened. She later told her son, an only child, to impress upon him that one should never take chances with strangers. The assault haunted her for years. “I’d wake up at night with nightmares and see those eyes,” she said.
But what was Getreu doing between 1975 and 2018? Police do not believe Williams, Perlov, Taylor, the underage girl in 1975, and possibly Lucchese, were his only victims. Little is known about Getreu’s personal life except that he has been married at least twice and has multiple children. He was working as a medical technician near Stanford University in the early 70s where both Perlov and Taylor had been patients, an indication he may have stalked the women before killing them. Jackson admitted it is difficult to recreate an individual’s backstory after so many years, but given the nature of Getreu’s four known crimes, he said it would be naïve to think such a man had kept his nose clean all those years.
While the murders of Leslie Perlov and Janet Taylor have been solved, and that of Arlis Perry officially closed, the killing of David S. Levine, a 20-year-old physics student, remains open. On September 11, 1973, Levine, who was described as “tall and husky,” was seen leaving the physics department around 1 a.m. on his way to the dorms at Escondido Village where he lived. Approximately two hours later, a student out jogging found his body. There was no signs of a struggle and his wallet was in his pocket. According to the autopsy report, the young man had been stabbed 12 times in the back and once in the chest. One theory is that Levine was a victim of the Death Angels, a group of black Muslims who targeted white people in 1973 and 74. Known as the “Zebra” murders, the group murdered at least 15 people and attempted to kill eight others.
Sources: Phil Luciano, The Peoria Journal-Star (Illinois), May 25, 2019; Robert Gearty, Fox News May 19, 2019; Nico Savidge, The San José Mercury-News, May 17, 2019; Richard Winton and James Queally, The Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2019; KPIX, November 26, 2018; The Stanford Daily, May 2, 1974; and The Circleville Herald (Ohio), June 11, 1963.